Acquired: Breeder (non-professional, hobby breeder),
Bred animal myself
Moodys, Oklahoma, United States
Posted Feb 10, 2014
Probably one of the best decisions we made was back in the summer of 2011 when we brought about 25 Muscovey ducks onto our acreage. I was online one night and read that Muscoveys are considered one of the better birds for bug and pest patrol. If you know anything about Oklahoma in the summer, it is BUGS. Lots of them, all over - bugs in the garden, ticks and fleas and flies - especially on a ranch that is running goats, sheep and hogs. Well, I discovered that even the US government was running experiments with this incredible bird in hog pens and in cattle yards. The result - WAY less flies. Needless to say, I was on the hunt for some. What started as a "small" investment has turned into a radical blessing for our ranch. Here are a few more of the pluses of this incredible bird.
First off, as stated above, they are are an incredible forager and will eat just about any bug that crosses their path. I have seen ducklings that are just a few days old, jumping in the air to try to grab flies that are in the barn or outside. Our bug and tick population around the house, yard and in the garden dropped drastically after the first year of owning these precious birds.
Secondly, these ducks grow at an incredible rate. The males, called drakes, will get to be 10 to 15 pounds within about 4 or 5 months. The females, called ducks, are about 8 to 9 pounds in the same time frame. This makes them one of the best birds to raise for the small family farm that is looking to be self-sufficient and to be able to produce high quality, good tasting and very affordable meat. And, in case you didn't realize it, these "ducks" are really not a true duck at all. They are a tree bird and do not possess any oil glands under their wings. What this means is that their meat is not greasy like typical duck meat. Instead, it is like dark turkey meat - yep, the whole bird is like dark turkey meat - moist and delicious (can't you just imagine it now?).
Third benefit? Eggs. The females will begin laying eggs at about 7 or 8 months of age. They are not considered an egg laying duck only because they do not lay year round. Instead, they lay in clutches. Typically they will lay 3 or 4 clutches in a year, from Spring until late fall. After they lay anywhere from 15 to 30 eggs, the duck will begin to sit. Let me tell you this, they are very protective of their nests once the sit has started. For about 36 days or so, they will sit and sit and sit - only exiting the nest occasionally to get a quick drink or bite of some food. At the right time, little ducklings will begin hatching and soon you will have a happy yet protective mother with her little duckling squad following after her. If you don't want ducklings, then you can collect their eggs and eat them as you would a chicken egg. We usually let all of ours hatch out because we have a friend that is allergic to duck eggs so they are kept out of the kitchen at our ranch.
We have had some ducks make their nest in various "unsafe" places and have had to move them to a safer location just before the hatch date. When doing this, I like to do it at night and try to grab the bird and point her away from me. Too many times, I have been sprayed with a nasty liquid that the duck will expel out of her anal area along with a mix of duck poop. We will quickly grab the eggs and place the mother and her eggs in a nest in a pen that she can't get out of. Most of the time, the mother will continue to sit and hatch her babies.
In case you can't tell, I am very happy with these birds. I also highly enjoy just watching them walk around the yards outside. Ducks are pretty cool in my mind. At this point, I don't see a downfall to owning Muscovey ducks. And, they come in a variety of colors. When we first started, we had blacks, white and mixes of those two colors. We have since started a great line of chocolates, lavenders and blues - some of the more rare colors in this breed.
OH! I almost forgot - one more added good thing is that they are quackless. Yep, no loud quacking out of these birds. They will hiss a little when they are deciding who is in charge of the group. Other than that, the mothers will wag their tail feathers at their babies and they seem to know what mama is saying. Want some? Look us up in NE Oklahoma and we'll get ya set-up!